Real estate insiders reveal the industry’s deceptive tactics | Four Corners

ZED NASHEET: I stick to one thing that I’m good at, and that’s called selling properties and listing properties. And if you don’t close a deal someone else will. Can you guys give me some more confidence? Serious face if we can, please? PAUL FARRELL: Australia has one of the most hyped

Residential real-estate markets in the world, worth $9 trillion. There’s so much money. There’s so much money to be made. For those of us fortunate enough to buy or sell a home, agents are the gatekeepers to the market. ANTONIA MERCORELLA: This is an area where consumer protection is absolutely essential.

It’s people’s life savings that are going into this. Now the insiders who know the system best are speaking out. Some are risking their career to lift the veil on the tricks of the trade. How would you characterise the real-estate industry? Disingenuous. Yeah. Extremely insincere. It’s lies on top of lies. ANTONIA MERCORELLA: Real-estate agents are frustrated at the conduct of a select few who give the industry a poor name and a bad reputation. We’re about to show you the secrets of Australia’s real-estate industry. We’ll examine the tactics used on buyers and sellers to get them across the line. Real estate in Australia

Is rife with potential conflicts of interest and hidden commissions. And there’s little confidence that regulators are doing enough to rein in rogue agents. ZED NASHEET: The Gold Coast is a very untapped market, especially in the luxury space. We’re going to innovate. We’re going to bring in our Zed touch and a Zed sparkle to get the whole Gold Coast market sharing and shaking. Melbourne real-estate agent Zed Nasheet isn’t a rule-breaker, but he IS a risk-taker. Which camera are we looking at? That camera there. He’s expanding his high-volume Melbourne agency to what he believes will be a lucrative market here in Queensland. Maybe everyone just look at me, and then when I say, “Three, two, one,” just, like, laugh, smile, just talk to each other. Three, two, one.

Yeah, we’re friendly people, we smile all the time. I’m all about personal branding and I’m all about expansion after expansion. And the only way we can expand is to be in front of more people and create as much content as we can so people can get captivated by what we’re doing, because in real estate image is everything.

You have to make your passion your paycheque. I live and breathe real estate. Real estate’s in my DNA. Sold by Zed Real Estate. Is that alright? Are we good? Have we got enough content? In today’s marketplace every single phone call matters, every single meeting matters and very single appraisal matters, and if you don’t close a deal someone else will. How’s that for an angle? (CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS) Better? Zed offers a window into the promotion-driven world of the luxury high-end agent. Confidence. All of us looking the same. Alright, guys, serious first. Alright. Oh, I love those shots! I love it! Oh, that looks amazing, mate. You’re a legend. Hey, Zed. How’re you going? Welcome to Zed Real Estate Gold Coast, mate. Good to see you, mate. Yeah! This is the team. Zed Nasheet’s the kind of agent you expect to see on a reality TV show.

And I’m a loud person, yeah? (CHUCKLES) No, no, I never would… Zed is loud. Zed’s always honing what he calls his ‘killer sales pitch’. A good, sharp salesman should be able to read every single personality out there. Oh, what’s… Like, your body language right now is telling me that you’re very straightforward, you’re very honest,

You’re an honest person, but you’re also a little bit indecisive person, so, you need that push forward… I’m indecisive? Oh. Sometimes. When it comes to real estate, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know if I should buy now or I should buy later.” Right, OK. This is what we need to do…

I’m not actually in the market for property, but there is a potential buyer on the phone. Obviously, with the interest-rate rise that’s just gone up, we’ve, uh…you know, everything gets slowed down. I’m happy to take an offer of $2.4 million in writing if you like.

You can’t do that? That’s OK. Would you go $2.3 million? Zed is pushing hard for an offer… Alright, why don’t we do this? Let’s put $2.2 million in writing with 30 days settlement. Could you do that? ..and nudges the buyer closer to the line. Pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

Bye. Everybody’s an opportunity in real estate, isn’t it? Regardless of who they are, what they are. And I never knock back offers, reason being is because we’re only estate agents and we just can’t knock back offers, so, the minute you put money in front of people, we can’t be decision-makers.

It’s all about the numbers game, isn’t it? Everything’s for sale for the right price. You like that?! (LAUGHTER) You love that shit? Zed’s unapologetic about his relentless focus on sales. That’s how he makes money. This is a nice view. Look at that nice view. Wow! This has to be the money shot right here. The back of the house is a lot more modern than the front of the house. Mm. Would you guys agree?

OTHERS: Absolutely. But he fires up when it comes to one industry practice that many consumers complain about – underquoting. That’s when agents lowball price guides to lure in more buyers. ZED NASHEET: There are so many agencies out there that underquote, and I’m totally against it. I am 100% against underquoting.

The amount of buyers that show up to auctions in today’s environment where agents have underquoted, they market a house, but at $2.4 million, 2.6 million where they’re reserve-priced at $3 million. The buyers get pissed off. This is why real-estate agents, they have a bad name, because of those underquoters, because of those agencies.

And it comes from the top. The top of those leaders out there, the old way of selling real estate is gone. They need to change their ways. How would you characterise the public’s perception of real-estate agents? Well, sadly, we know that consumer perceptions about real-estate professionals are not particularly good.

We know this from annual surveys that are conducted, and it’s certainly something that, I think, as a peak body for real-estate professionals, disappoints us and equally, I would say, it disappoints those who are in the profession. My name is Mark Jones. I’m an independent real-estate agent in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

I worked in finance in London during the GFC and saw how badly the industry needed to change. That’s what I think needs to happen in Australian real estate. It needs cleaning up. Mark Jones knows he runs a risk in speaking out about his own industry.

MARK JONES: Yeah, I could be shunned by the industry, for sure. Yeah, it could mean the end of my business. I might have to go back to finance. Hey, Mark. How are you? Hey, Paul. How’re you going? Yeah, good. What a beautiful morning. Lovely. So, Mark, what do you think is the biggest problem in real estate in Australia? Underquoting. It’s everywhere and it’s obvious, it’s really blatant. Anyone who’s in the industry or anyone who’s trying to buy a property

Can see it on most listings. How do you know it’s everywhere? Well, I’m in the market. I’m watching what goes on. I’m talking to buyer’s agents, talking to buyers. I know what price properties should or will sell for, certainly within 10%, maybe 15% at worse.

So, I’m often seeing properties come on and just thinking, “What a joke. “There’s no way that that’s going to sell anywhere near that guide.” He’s been closely following price guides set by agents in his local area and comparing them with sales prices. He’s found a significant difference.

So, from the first guide to the sold price, I’ve just kept track of properties that were comparable to the properties I was selling or appraising at the time. So, this is just a handful. And they were underquoted by 31%, 28%, 28%, 38% and the winner from the year before – 43%.

So, with underquoting, we have recognised that this is quite a significant issue, which is causing quite significant consumer harm. So, in 2021, we set up a specialist underquoting team of inspectors who went out and really did a blitz across the state to look at how this practice was playing out.

What that underquoting team saw was quite prevalent underquoting. The data we’ve got from Fair Trading shows that the largest fine they’ve ever awarded for underquoting is $2,200. Serious? (LAUGHS) That’s a joke, isn’t it? Is that any kind of deterrent? No. No. The usual suspects are earning, you know… ..millions of dollars a year.

It’s, um… It’s an absolute joke. I mean, surely some agents are just baking this into the cost of doing business? So, that is an issue and that is something that we are working with them on. If they are baking it into the cost of doing business, they need to look more broadly

About what is it doing to their reputation both as an agent but also as the sector? What are consumers thinking and what sort of level of consumer confidence is if people are just doing the wrong thing and baking it into business? If people are forming that view,

If there are people telling you that, then I have to…I have to accept that that’s their opinion as to that particular issue. Again, it’s a big state and… But, look, you know, let me say this – I’m aware it does take place, but, having said that,

I don’t think it is anywhere near as big a problem as what the community would believe it to be. We’re in South Australia’s Clare Valley to meet homebuyer John O’Brien. Hey, John. How’re you going? Hey. Paul, is it? Yeah! Great to meet you. We’re pretty much just surrounded by vineyards everywhere here, aren’t we? Yeah, it’s an idyllic place, but, you know, there’s always a bit of trouble in paradise.

John O’Brien’s story shows how consumers can be misled by an agent. This is some marketing from around the time when we purchased the property. “Stone cottage, modern extension. “8 acres.” In bold. “Wide French doors that open out onto a balcony.” Then we come back down here towards the bottom.

“The grounds are superbly simplistic spacious lawn box hedges “and 8 acres set amongst huge gums and vineyard.” And it just isn’t true? It’s not true. We’re missing three acres. The agent who sold John the property was also the owner. He also sent us an email about the size of it,

Justifying the price on the basis of the size of the land as well. So, that was it – we were misrepresented the size of the land. John says he conducted the usual checks for the purchase. Two years after he bought the property John started planning renovations,

And realised it was 5.2 acres in size, not 8. He’s devoted years of his life trying to untangle the mess. JOHN O’BRIEN: We decided to pursue through the regulator a complaint. And we lodged that, and they came out and investigated and, ultimately, they did find

That the agent had misrepresented the size of the property. Under scrutiny from the regulator, the agent undertook not to make false or misleading representations. He agreed to what’s known as an ‘enforceable undertaking’, which says that, because he owned the land and was selling it,

He should have known that the land was not 8 acres. Every state and territory keeps an online register so that consumers can check a real-estate agent’s licence. South Australian law requires disciplinary findings to be recorded on the register. We looked up the licence of John’s agent, and there was nothing there.

So, this is a copy of the agent’s licence, and it doesn’t actually reference anything about the findings against him in relation to your property. There’s nothing on here at all. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. So, he misled you, and there’s not even a reference to that on his licence? (SIGHS) Yes. Yes.

Doesn’t surprise me, though. Consumer and Business Services South Australia said that undertakings are available on its website but not on an individual’s licence. This practice is now being reviewed. The regulator said it took appropriate action in relation to John’s complaint, and that the agent’s licence was cancelled this year for an administrative reason.

They should be held to a higher standard. They’re a property professional. That’s their career. If you read their blogs and their real-estate website and all that, they boast about how skilled they are and how much they know and all that, and, yet, they know all the tricks. People just feel so completely bamboozled

By what they’re seeing in the property industry that they really just want someone who’s in their corner and backing in their interests. And that’s where buyer’s agents come in. And people really just want someone who’s willing to give them frank and fearless advice. Two hours north of Sydney,

Newcastle is a thriving property market, and competition is fierce among buyers. I’m Chad Dunn, a buyer’s agent from Newcastle, New South Wales. I’ve been in the real-estate industry for over 22 years. I’ll ask you this question – does your buyer’s agent have your best interest at mind?

It’s really important so there’s no conflict of interest. CHAD DUNN: This one hasn’t even hit the market yet, so, it hasn’t been listed with an agent and it hasn’t gone onto the open market. So, these clients that I’m sending this through to, they’re getting a showing before the general market does. A buyer’s agent helps, I guess, assist you through the whole process, holds your hand, but makes sure that what you’re buying isn’t a dud. Buyer’s agents rely on their relationships with selling agents. CHAD DUNN: We spend a lot of time making sure that we’re talking and communicating

With lots of different agents in different areas to be one of the first to find out about the new listings coming up, but it is crucial that we don’t be seen as having too much of a bias to one particular office or one chain because, at the end of the day,

We’re being paid by the buyer to have a bias to them to find them the right property, not necessarily with whom we’re, you know… a better relationship with as agents. Ready? How do I look? Alright? So, I’m standing out the front of a property we purchased for a client.

We’re just about to do the pre-settlement inspection. One of Chad’s competitors in the Newcastle market is Jack Henderson. CHAD DUNN: Henderson Advocacy – so, they’re one of probably 20 different competitors we’ve got in my area, in the Hunter. I think they also operate on the Central Coast and Sydney.

I was a young guy in the construction industry, got expelled from school, and I leveraged all that to build my story, so, to get onto people’s podcasts and to, you know, get articles and all that shit, and then I just went hard because I believe, in life, it’s not about what you know

It’s who you know. There’s plenty happening out there, Will. I can feel it. When everyone’s contracting, mate, we’re (BLEEP!) expanding, like my biceps, alright? The 26-year-old is a prolific content creator, churning out colourful videos on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. How many square metres is it? MAN: All this? Yeah. 147. OK. Yeah.

It’s nice, mate. And it’s private too. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la! Big week this week for the Henderson team, mate. Three deals last week. A couple happening this week. Greig Sheridan and his partner bought their Newcastle home through Henderson Advocacy. GREIG SHERIDAN: We wanted to leave Sydney, we wanted to head a little bit north, and we found ourselves in Newcastle.

We found that real-estate agents were suggesting that we call Henderson, so, when you’ve got the vendor’s agents suggesting Henderson’s, we, perhaps naively, went straight to them. Right from the start Greig and his partner, Glenn, saw a red flag in the contract that Henderson’s provided.

It says that we’re not allowed to say or do anything that might bring the buyer’s agent into disrepute or to in any way discourage people from giving them business. So, this is basically a gag clause… Absolutely. ..that your buyer’s agent has asked you to sign? Yes. Yes. Yes. Wow.

So, you couldn’t really say anything negative about Henderson at all. No, no, so, we couldn’t leave anything less than a glowing five-star Google review. Wow. Or contact the regulator if we’d had any problems with this transaction. I responded to Jack straightaway saying, “Nup, we’re disengaging, we’re not going to proceed.”

And when he asked why, I said, “That gag clause.” He was very quick to drop the gag clause. He wanted the business, very keen for the business, and was prepared to drop the gag clause. I don’t think these clauses should appear in buyer’s agent’s agreements, but a non-disparagement clause

Is likely to be unenforceable anyway. The ACCC has taken action against businesses with non-disparagement clauses and deemed them to breach unfair-contract-terms laws. Henderson Advocacy helped Greig buy his home through one of Newcastle’s biggest-selling agencies, PRD Presence, which also trades as PRD Newcastle. PRD Newcastle is co-founded and directed by Mark Kentwell. It’s no wonder that people from all around Australia and locals alike are trying to get their piece of coastal real-estate action that’s close to the city of Newcastle. Mark Kentwell and Jack Henderson appear in real-estate videos together. Let’s go check it out. The flamingo!

Hello! How’re you going, mate? Good, mate. Good. Good to see you. Hello! Welcome. How are you? (LAUGHS) Welcome. Welcome. I love it. I love it. So, this is what… We’re selling HIM the apartment, and he’s saying ‘welcome’ to us. That’s what he’s like. He’s so good, the flamingo.

But the selling agent and the buyer’s agent also have a business relationship. I’m Jack Henderson, the co-founder of Henderson Advocacy and head buyer’s agent. And I’m sitting with the other co-founder, Mark Kentwell. Yeah, Mark Kentwell, MK, Kenny K, and I organise the scaling and the vision side of the business.

Look, I think we were surprised. I know, talking to different sales agents, they were surprised as well ‘cause I think, on face value, they weren’t informed that there was what could be perceived as a conflict of interest. And, I think, as long as clients are informed

That there is that conflict of interest to a degree, I think then problem solved. Mark Kentwell is a co-founder of Henderson Advocacy. He isn’t a director or shareholder, and told Four Corners he receives no dividend or profit distributions from the company. The two men have publicly spoken about how they work together

At Henderson Advocacy. And even though I still do real estate, sales and advisory myself, I don’t buy properties for Henderson Advocacy. I’m purely involved in scaling and the business side. So, what would you say if I told you that one of PRD Newcastle’s directors is also one of the founders of Henderson Advocacy?

That would come as a shock. That just seems totally inappropriate. Did you know that? Were you ever told? No. No. No, definitely not. So, the whole point of engaging a buyer’s agent is to be OUR representative, to be able to talk all of the real-estate guff

And know and work through all of the strategies that the vendor’s agent would be using against us. So, we definitely want somebody who’s independent of the vendor’s agent to be working for us. We’re paying them a very large amount of money, we certainly want them to be on OUR side. Jack Henderson declined an interview request with Four Corners and did not respond to written questions. He told us he wasn’t interested in being a part of the story and referred us to his positive customer reviews. There’s another layer to the relationship between PRD Newcastle and Henderson Advocacy.

Behind these tinted windows is a call centre, and in this call centre a handful of agents are making hundreds of phone calls a day drumming up new business with a very sophisticated strategy. The so-called Growth Centre is supervised by Mark Kentwell. It’s a separate corporate entity to PRD Newcastle.

What might sound like a spontaneous call from an agent is sometimes a calculated, scripted pitch. We’ve obtained a copy of a training manual to help new staff pitch for sales to people on PRD Newcastle’s database. A detailed script directs trainees to gather intelligence and then choose the appropriate sales spiel. Throughout the conversation,

The script coaches staff to recommend Henderson Advocacy. We showed The Growth Centre script to Henderson’s competitor Chad Dunn. Yeah, I mean, look… (SIGHS) Speechless. That’s really surprising. It’s very staged and obviously routine, and I think that’s the bit that is a little bit disturbing. So, it’s the way this is done

Is probably not sitting that well with me. There’s nothing wrong with referrals in our industry. I do get recommendations from other agents. But this is very staged, and I think that’s where it’s really blurring the lines. I just hope their clients that sign up with Henderson’s

Are aware that this is where they’re coming from. There’s no mention that PRD Newcastle’s director is a co-founder of Henderson Advocacy. If there’s no disclosure, how is a purchaser supposed to know about the relationship? How are those players, those businesses, going to act in the best interest of the purchaser in those circumstances?

Mark Kentwell declined an interview request with Four Corners. He said in a statement his business interests and relationships are disclosed to stakeholders in writing and verbally where required, and that he continues to work with lawyers to ensure compliance with consumer laws. PRD Presence, which trades as PRD Newcastle,

Also said it complies with its disclosure obligations. My name’s Steve von der Borch. I’ve been a real-estate agent since 1984. Along the way I’ve seen laws being bent, breached and broken. This is not serving the community well. Consumers are suffering and good real-estate agents are being dragged down. Steve von der Borch runs a suburban real-estate agency in Adelaide’s north-west.

VIDEO: Hello, and welcome to beautiful Henley Beach South! We’re right here on the beach and, of course, it’s a fabulous location. By speaking out Steve risks making enemies in the industry. He wants to tell us the tricks agents use on sellers, like conditioning. My name’s Steve von der Borch. Thanks for watching.

So, just walk us through that. What’s conditioning? There’s a lot of competition amongst agents to win the listing. A lot of people think that real estate is about selling property. It’s actually about winning the listing. And the temptation is that agents who will tell an owner what they want to hear

Are more likely to get the listing, and then it’s the source of poor advice. Once the agent has won the listing with an inflated selling price the conditioning strategy is to talk the seller down to where the market actually is. That agent has a competitive advantage. When they go to list the property,

Their modus operandi is appraise high without accountability and quote low to make dough. You sound pretty angry about it. I am angry about it because good agents are lost to this industry by this sort of practice because they get dudded all the time. And there’s no real empowerment of the authorities

To go out and find this stuff out and deal with it because it’s nuanced and it’s whispered. There is this practice that we’ve been told of of conditioning where agents condition sellers to get a listing. Yes. Does that practice concern you, if agents aren’t being honest

About their expectations for a price they can get? A real-estate professional shouldn’t be inflating the price in order to secure the listing and then, subsequently, trying to condition the vendor to accept a lower price. So, what I would say is that a good real-estate agent should be able to substantiate

The amount that they think the property will achieve, and that’s usually done through pointing to comparable sales data. We accept that in some areas of agency practice that there are people who do the wrong thing. Like every other trade, calling and profession, there are people, unfortunately, that bring the industry into disrepute.

We have ours. We have to deal with ours, we do. But we are constantly trying to improve the standard of the services that we provide to our clients. Steve von der Borch wants to reveal something else about his industry – the hidden kickbacks.

An agent who sends a client to another agent could get a commission. A good example would be referring business. So, you’re standing at an open inspection, you meet someone who’s got a property in a remote location you can’t work who needs to sell. They mention this you, you get their details,

You call another agent in that location, let them know that that’s about to happen. They give the client a call, go and see their property. And in return, at settlement, the referring agent picks up 20% of the fee. So, that could amount to a couple of thousand dollars for a $500,000 home.

Do you think consumers actually know that this is happening? Like, is that… I’m sure they don’t. I’m sure they don’t. Referrals are a bigger part of the market than I had realised when I first started the business. Yeah, it’s very standard for a 20% referral fee to be paid

From anyone who might bring the business to you, to bring you a lead or bring you a listing. So, there’s a whole kind of hidden economy of commissions beneath the industry? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And it’s all considered very normal. Which I don’t have a problem with, as long as it’s disclosed, you know?

With more than half a million residential properties sold around the nation each year, regulators can’t police every transaction. INSPECTOR: We’re here for the general-compliance briefing for Operation 3-2023, South Western Sydney. But New South Wales Fair Trading inspectors are doing their best to keep real-estate agents honest.

We’re joining them in the middle of a week-long blitz. We’re still seeing quite prominent issues with underquoting, not being able to substantiate changes to the estimated selling price. We’ll be looking at taking a consistent approach with underquoting, fairly educative in respect of the requirements, but strong compliance action

To indicate our zero tolerance for that particular matter. Operations like this are part of the New South Wales regulator’s efforts to oversee an industry with a reputation for flouting the rules. NATASHA MANN: As the regulator we can never be in every agency every day of the week.

So, ultimately, what we need agents to do is to actually step up and do the right thing and comply with the laws that they are required to comply with. So, we can only do so much as a regulator and, ultimately, it needs to be the agents who step up

And make sure that there is consumer confidence in their industry. After the blitz the compliance team updates the commissioner, and it’s not good news. We visited 41 agencies during the week, and 37 were non-compliant. 37 of the 41 were non-compliant? So, about 90% non-compliance rate. It’s pretty disappointing.

We had 88 separate breaches that were identified. The most common breaches were agents not having policies and procedures in accordance with the supervision guidelines and not ensuring that estimated selling price on sales agreements were considered to be reasonable and remain reasonable. So, the underquoting offence? That’s correct. Yeah. OK.

I think $25,000 worth of penalty notices were issued. We’ve done education and warnings. And the team will be out in the next couple of months again to see that that compliance has lifted in those areas. The New South Wales Fair Trading commissioner would welcome greater powers to be tougher on agents.

A lot of it’s enshrined in law in terms of what the maximum value of the fine can be. So, that really is a matter for the politicians to change the law in that respect. Personally, I think I’d be very happy to have higher fines and higher enforcements. Do we take the approach

That we want to fine the industry, we’re simply going to be looking to catch people doing the wrong thing? Or do we take a better response and say that we want to work with industry to bring the level of compliance up to where there is… where the standard of what the regulator wants? No, I…I, frankly, don’t think there is a lot of benefit in having these programs where we go into the market and fine a heap of agents and then publish the results in the newspaper the following day.

We’ve learnt The Real Estate Institute gave agents a heads-up about the operation in south-west Sydney. This information actually came from Fair Trading. And it’s not the first time. The regulator has alerted the industry body about a number of raids in the past. We take two approaches.

One is announced visits and one is unannounced visits. So, with the announced visits, we would work with the industry associations and we would tell them, “This is what we’re looking at” – it might be underquoting, it might be rent bidding. We would tell them because, ultimately,

We want real-estate agents to get their business in order, to do the right thing. I mean, aren’t you giving a tip-off to the industry about compliance issues in advance if you’re forewarning them about a visit? As I said, we do both announced visits and unannounced visits.

So, with our announced ones, we ARE informing them, we are saying, “It is our regulatory focus this month “to look at underquoting, “and we put you on notice that you need to be doing the right thing “because we are sending inspectors out to monitor you,

“and we will come after you if you’re not.” When did this practice of getting updates from Fair Trading on compliance operations in advance, when did that begin? Oh, it’d be 12 months ago maybe. Yeah. Why did that start 12 months ago? Look, that’s probably a better question for Fair Trading. It…

I don’t know. We have… Did you request that? We could have said that we would like to be working with Fair Trading in these issues. Where I see, with penalties… Sorry, just… Did you ask the regulator to provide? I… I possibly did, yes. I mean, we’re asking constantly

If we can have a more productive relationship so that we can improve our sector. I mean, some might say that indicates that that’s a far too friendly relationship, getting tip-offs like that. What would you say to that? Uh… Well, I see the argument, but, at the end of the day,

What we’ve said to people when we know that Fair Trading is going to be in the area, we’ve said to them, “These are the things “that they will be looking for, “so, have your office in a position “to provide the maximum assistance they can with Fair Trading.”

Because, at the end of the day, people from Fair Trading that go in there, they’ve got their job to do. We can cooperate with each other, we can provide the documents that they are looking for. Christine Shaw, real-estate agent from Canberra. Our industry is all about trust.

I believe the legislation should be improved so that consumers have greater protection. I want to thank our owners in handing over the property they’ve had constructed for themselves to live in. Christine Shaw is breaking ranks with her own industry. Who’d like to kick us along?

It’s not where we start but where we finish. BIDDER: 1.75. Oh, jeez, it’s gonna be a long day. Agents like Christine are seeing a real slowdown at auctions as interest-rate rises take hold. So, we have a slight increase here, folks, to $2.2 million. Just give us a moment.

We’re gonna seek some final instructions from our sellers. The final bid today isn’t enough to reach the reserve. Third and final call. Are we all done and finished? No further bids? I’ll pass the property in. Thanks for your bids today. We might be able to help you immediately after the auction.

Thanks, folks, for coming along. (CLAPS) CHRISTINE SHAW: I have a very good group of agents around me. There will be some and many of us who follow the spirit and the intent of the law and the legislation and our framework of how we operate. There are others, however,

If there’s a loophole in the legislation, they’ll find it and they could drive a truck through it. Christine Shaw wants to see better regulation and wants the industry itself to help pay for compliance. That’s, perhaps, not going to be liked by many. I understand. But, perhaps, that is an avenue

That can help improve consumer confidence, that the industry themselves are contributing to those compliance and investigative units that are in their various jurisdictions. It’s hard enough as it is for many Australians to break into the property market. Surely there’s a better way to help consumers

With what may be the most important financial decision of a lifetime. So, you’ve got, in every state and territory, different rules around licensing, you’ve got different rules around penalties, different rules around what needs to be disclosed. Wouldn’t it make more sense for all of this to just be regulated nationally

Given how important property is to Australians? Yeah, that’s right. Look, I think that’s the utopian vision, potentially. Even though that sounds like a simple solution, the reality of achieving that is, I think, quite complicated. So, I’ll hand it over to Zed. Welcome, Zed! Aye? Whoo! Back with Zed Nasheet at his Melbourne headquarters, it’s the weekly sales meeting. In today’s marketplace you need relationships, you need connections. Today’s a celebration of his team’s fortunes. So far this month they’ve hit $42 million worth of listings. Congratulations to every single one of you guys

Because, if you notice in here, every one of you guys have performed. (DANCE MUSIC PLAYS) Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! So, another agent told us that… when we asked him, “How would you characterise the real-estate industry in Australia?” He said, “Disingenuous. Extremely insincere. “From the very first appraisal meeting “it’s lies on top of lies.” What do you think about that? Everyone has their own opinions, and I respect that.

And if that’s their experience and the journey that they’ve had, I feel bad. At the end of the day, nobody’s perfect in life, correct? And that’s why you’ve got to do your due diligence, your homework. There shouldn’t be any lies. Why would you have the need to lie? In this real-estate industry, if you want to survive, you’ve got to go out there and become a hunter and be willing to be able to take punches on a daily basis. It’s the world’s easiest industry to get into and it’s also the world’s hardest industry to survive into.

And in real estate, if you don’t sell, you don’t get paid. Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Australia’s real estate insiders are spilling the secrets of their industry.

Some are risking their careers to speak out about the tactics used to deceive buyers and sellers as they make the biggest financial decisions of their lives.

Four Corners has spoken to more than a hundred agents and property professionals, and scores of buyers and sellers, who responded to a crowdsourced investigation launched last year.

What they reveal is a damning assessment of the industry: rife with potential conflicts of interest, misconduct, and regulators struggling to clean things up in this nine trillion-dollar industry.
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